– On yet another day dominated by trade talk – a day in which the Bruins acquired 679-goal scorer, Jaromir Jagr, from the Dallas Stars – there was a game to be played at TD Garden.
Nathan Horton scored the winner – his fourth goal in four games – at 10:21 of the third, and David Krejci and Tyler Seguin also scored to help the Black & Gold come away as 3-2 winners over the Sens, in a game that saw the Bruins and Senators combine for a whopping 97 shots on goal (50 for the B’s).
“You do in scrimmages,” joked B’s Head Coach Claude Julien, when asked postgame about not normally seeing that many shots in an NHL game - especially in one between two teams that normally match up in a tight-checking battle. “It was good to see our team, offensively, create some chances because that’s an area where we’ve struggled. But, somehow we’ve got to combine both [offense and defense] together.
“I thought we were very soft defensively. Again, we didn’t play with heavy sticks, got ripped off the puck many times, weren't extremely strong on the walls. A lot of turnovers, a lot of takeaways. Defensively, we kind of had a so-so game, but offensively we were much better.”
The offense was led by the line of Krejci, Horton and Milan Lucic, who combined for five points (2-3) and came through on the deciding goal.
Horton’s tally came on the B’s 46th shot of the night and put the them on top for good at 10:21 into the third. Lucic fired a slapper that popped out in front of Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner and Horton, displaying his big body in front, collected the puck, deposited it through the five-hole and into the back of the net.
“We needed that,” said Shawn Thornton of Horton’s goal. “It was a great play by Looch being strong on it, obviously getting that puck through, and then Horty picking up the rebound. He’s been unbelievable for us.
“I think he takes a lot of heat sometimes, but everyone in this room loves him and when he’s on, he’s a pretty special player. He’s been really good for us of late, I think.”
The goal meant more than just the eventual game-winner - it came after alternate captain Patrice Bergeron had left the game in the second period and did not return. Coach Julien did not have an update following the game, but the B's postgame talked about stepping up in Bergeron's third-period absence.
"Obviously, going into the third he wasn’t in the lineup anymore," said Tyler Seguin, on his linemate. "I guess you could say we adjusted for that period. Obviously, we got a quick one. We found a way to win and that’s what we wanted to do for him."
"He’s such a big part of our team, big leader, obviously our definite best defensive forward. It’s really focusing right now on our zone, and everyone stepping up as well," Seguin added, on the adjustment made in the third period.
Earlier in the game, after falling behind, 1-0, at just 2:48 into the opening period on a goal from Ottawa forward Colin Greening, the Bruins snapped their streak of seven straight games without a goal in the first, by scoring two goals in 1:01.
Just 40 seconds after the Sens scored, Krejci tied the game. Zdeno Chara ripped a wrister from the point that glanced off the midsection of Krejci, who was planted just outside the crease.
Krejci’s goal and an assist on Horton's gave him 2-3=5 totals in his last four games.
“Krech has been a great player, and I’ve been fortunate enough to play with him for six seasons now,” said Krejci’s linemate Milan Lucic. “I think he definitely gets us going because as a centerman he controls a lot of the play on any line.”
Lucic, who has a 1-4=5 line of his own over the past five games, said that confidence is a big factor in his line getting back to its offensive ways of late.
"I think the main thing for the three of us is we kind of got our confidence back," explained No. 17. "It's more a positive frame of mind. When things weren't going so well, we were kind of getting down on ourselves and on each other.
"We know what we're capable of when we're at our best and we want to contribute, we want to be a big part of this team. It's slowly getting to where our games needs to be and where we want it to be."
The Bruins then took a 2-1 lead with Seguin's 12th goal of the season. Seguin forced a turnover at the Ottawa blue line and shuffled a pass over to Brad Marchand, creating a two-on-one. The Little Ball of Hate didn’t hesitate to give the puck right back to Seguin who deposited the puck into an empty net.
Postgame, Seguin joked that the goal had happened so early in the game that he had forgotten the details of the play, but did give credit to Marchand for the pass that found him in front.
After a scoreless second period, the Sens’ Andre Benoit knotted things at 2, 1:55 into the final frame. Benoit blasted a shot from the point, and it appeared that B’s goalie Anton Khudobin made a diving stop. But after review, it was ruled that the puck hit off the middle bar and bounced out.
Khudobin, who made 45 saves, summed up the night perfectly.
“They were shooting from everywhere, we were shooting from everywhere” said the B’s goaltender, who was making his second straight start. “They were skating well, we were skating well. We created chances, they created chances.
“When I look at the score and it was 3-2 with a couple of minutes left and I saw it like 45-50 or something like that, I was like, ‘oh, maybe they’ll shoot five more and it will be 50-50."